Recruiting and integrating a large number of muscles. This can lead to systemic nervous system development, muscle growth and hormone up regulation.
Loading the body in a very unique and heavy way. If we look at the back squat the load sits on top of your spine, the hub of your Central Nervous System, thus providing a novel neurologic stimulus.
Carry over into a lot of other movements. The pattern of the squat itself involves a number of movements that are replicated more acutely in different exercises. That means if we practise our squat, we might see an increase of proficiency in movements like deadlifts, lunges, Olympic lifts, overhead pressing and any leg focused cardiorespiratory movements.
Lower limb strength and growth. Looking to build those quads, hamstrings or booty? Full range and well-performed squats create an enormous amount of muscle damage and kinetic tension.
Grab a chair. Take a seat. Stand up. The sit down again. See? Box squats are great! But what’s the benefit of sitting down mid-movement?
Having a box behind you is a great thing if you’re a beginner. It gives you comfort knowing that if you need to, you can just take a seat. This means you can take the focus off the fear of a new movement and put your attention into the technique.
The way we perform a box squat doesn’t perfectly carry over into a regulation barbell squat. It does however allow us to practise sitting back with our hips, keeping a brace during hip flexion, creating tension on the bar and generating power from a stationary position. All things that can get muddied when we remove the box from a beginner squatter.
It also allows us to feel what a full range of motion will feel like. If you struggle with getting your hips in line or below your knees, you can use the box as a reference for depth, and then address any mobility issues that may arise.
The squat can be broken up into dynamic and stationary movements. The beauty of the box squat is that it breaks up the two dynamic movements (eccentric [lowering phase] and concentric [lifting phase]) and halts our stretch shortening cycle. This means we can’t use any momentum, stretch reflex, energy transfer or ‘bounce’ to assist us on our lifting phase.
We essentially have to, very suddenly, generate a heap of power in a shortened position. Which is quite difficult. This increased output carries over into coming out of ‘the hole’ of our squat, and it also provides a very unique and powerful stimulus to the lower body.
If we take a deeper dive (pun fully intended) into the loading and the position of the box squat, 2 major things stand out; The Tibia (shins) are fairly straight and there is an emphasis on the flexion (bend) from the hips. Both of these things put a lot of demand on the posterior chain (the muscles that run along the back of the body).
Why is this good? Because they are often neglected and play an enormous role in athletic performance. A perpendicular shin places a lot of emphasis on the glutes and hamstrings. And hip flexion places an emphasis on the back, midline, glutes and hamstrings also. So if you know you need to develop these muscles and their function, grab your box and get squatting.
The number one aesthetic attribute that I respect the most about an individual is a well developed posterior chain. Including well-positioned shoulders, a developed, mobile upper back and dense, powerful glutes and hamstrings. Just to be clear, it’s not all about the butt. These attributes tell me this person is powerful and has put some time into making movement, function and power a focus.
If your end goal is to increase the weight of your back squat, the box squat can assist. Taking into account the aforementioned benefits, the box squat puts a lot of emphasis on the part of the squat that is the hardest, the bottom.
By practising and creating power in this fully shortened position we can teach the body to find greater tension. This will carry over into the regulation back squat. You can also play with the height of the box to place emphasis on differing positions.
If done correctly the box squat can give the knees a break from excessive flexion. If you get pain in your knees when you squat, it’s sometimes a placement issue. Disengaged glutes pass their loading onto the quads, often shifting our centre of gravity forwards. This leads to excessive knee and ankle flexion. This places a lot of unnecessary tension on the ligaments and tendons of your knee, causing pain and discomfort. If you have been living with this pain, movements like the box squat, that emphasise the posterior chain may help.
The ticket is making sure you are in the right position. If you need assistance, chat to a Jetts Team Member!
There is a bit of conjecture on how exactly to use the box, but in this instance we are taking the weight off the legs by completely sitting on the box. If you are still a bit stuck on how it is performed, start with the following steps and keep practising:
Set up your box in a squat rack. If you are new to the movement, set the box/seat up so your hips sit 2 inches above your knee when you sit down. The further down you sit the more difficult it will be. The goal should be to set up your box at a height where your hips drop just below your knees. Don’t hesitate to use weight plates to bridge the gap between box heights.
After a thorough warm up, set the bar up across your shoulders as to perform a regulation back squat.
Brace through the midline, create tension on the bar, screw your feet into the floor, push your knees out laterally and sit your hips back and down, until you sit down on the box. Avoid dropping your hips down too soon, emphasise the backwards hip movement, use the box.
Keep your tension on the box and release the hip flexors, coming into a straight, but tight torso position.
Re-engage the hip flexors and shift your weight forward to jump off the box. Make this movement powerful and sudden.
Come to a standing position and repeat if desired.
It can take a long time to master this movement, so start slow and don’t be afraid to chat to a Jetts Team Member and ask for assistance. Happy squatting!